Criticism of new ‘slim’ cigarettes

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ANGER is growing over a new super slim “perfume pack” cigarette which could encourage women to smoke.

Anti-smoking organisation Fresh has been joined by MPs and doctors in criticising the new Vogue Perle packs which they say exploit women’s obsession with supermodels and staying slim.

The pack boasts of being designed in Paris, and are described as “taller and thinner than a king sized cigarette” with a “compact box that fits easily into a pocket of handbag”.

Dr Shonag Mackenzie, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington, treats women every week whose smoking has harmed or damaged their baby’s growth.

She said: “I am appalled. It is simply outrageous that they are allowed to get away with this.

“I think people will be shocked. They are focusing on the north because more women smoke here than in other parts of the country and it’s a prime market for them to reap.

“Young women are obsessed with fashion and staying slim that this is exactly the message this pack is trying to give.

“The frightening thing is that it is young teenage girls who don’t yet smoke but are probably experimenting who are most likely to be influenced by this advertising.

“They will see all the lovely colours and assume that something that looks so nice can’t possibly be as unhealthy as doctors say.

“This might mean more profits for the tobacco industry and for the shops selling these, but it also means more babies born with health problems, more costs to the NHS and more families losing daughters, mothers and grandmothers at an early age.

“Unfortunately the NHS has a tiny budget to tackle smoking compared to the almost limitless budgets of tobacco companies encouraging people to smoke.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “The tobacco industry clearly sees the north as a huge pound sign.

“We have already seen glamorous cigarette promotional staff stalking our bars, but this is the first time we have seen this brand being promoted here.

“This highlights the urgency now to follow what is happening in Australia and seriously look at plain packaging on tobacco to plug a serious loophole in the tobacco advertising ban.

“If glamorous designs on packs did not help it recruit new customers, the tobacco industry would not spend millions of pounds on developing them.

“The packs themselves are as powerful as any TV or cinema advert.”

The north east has the highest rate of female smokers in England with 25,000 female adult smokers (23 per cent of adult women).